*It’s hard to preach to your children about the woes of the rap game when some rappers are making so much money that they have their own “Forbes Richest” list. Forbes doesn’t create lists for just anybody, so don’t get it twisted. If they were fortunate enough to have made the list it’s likely that every person you know between 15 and 30 knows these entertainers by name. Judging from the line-up the poorest rapper on the Forbes list is worth at least $6 million. Some of them might surprise you, or at least make you re-evaluate your concept of what business is all about.
Take the top rapper with the most net worth for example: Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka P Diddy, aka Mr. $500 million man. And we used to think the $6 million man had it going on. Combs started college at Howard University then dropped out soon after he got hired at Uptown Records in New York. Then he branched off to start his own record label called Bad Boy and then he started his own clothing line called Sean Jean. And what’s good music and nice clothes without something to drink? So Combs went into the alcoholic beverage business and started selling Ciroc Vodka. Any good business person knows once you build a following for one product line, just create new product lines and they will come. Pretty soon you’ll have what corporate America calls “branding.” Combs, Jay-Z, the number two net worth rapper on the list, and most of the others have realized the rules of their business are no different than the rules of any other business. They didn’t graduate from business school, but they probably can teach a whole semester’s worth of classes about the importance of effective communication, the art of negotiating and that distribution is king. Most people develop these skills in English class, on a debate team and by becoming good salesmen – hopefully selling something that’s not illegal.
A few of the top rappers admit to being involved in illegal activities before they became legit, but it’s no different than Joseph Kennedy who started his family’s fortune by selling moonshine or some other patriarchs who started out in the “human cargo” business before transitioning to other more acceptable trades.
Just like these businessmen before them, their genre’ of music and legitimacy were only a matter of time. The fact that all of the rappers, except one, in this Forbes category are African-American and this category didn’t exist before the early 2000s speaks volumes about how this group has changed the perception of their profession and the work they had to do to climb to the top.
So if your teenager tries to convince you that he or she is the next Lil’ Wayne or Nicki Minaj that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although I feel your pain. Don’t hate the game. Explain to them that every game has rules. Master the rules and they too could be at the top of the Forbes list of richest people.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist. Send your comments, questions and appearance inquiries to Steffanie at [email protected]